Sarcopenia refers to the loss of muscle mass caused by the natural process of ageing. Over time, the loss of muscle mass may reduce a person’s strength and affect his or her balance and the ability to walk. Sarcopenia can make it difficult for one to carry on with their routine activities, such as walking, lifting objects, or climbing stairs.
The reduction in muscle mass involves both a decrease in their size and the loss of muscle fibres. Sarcopenia becomes noticeable by age 40 – and the loss of muscle tissues progress more rapidly by the time you reach the 60s or 70s. Doctors believe that certain hormonal changes due to ageing are the main reason for this condition.
Apart from that, poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle also contribute to muscle loss. Health experts and doctors suggest that following a proper, nutritious diet can help treat or delay sarcopenia.
Diet recommended for sarcopenia patients
If you are diagnosed with sarcopenia, your dietician or healthcare provider will likely recommend a diet that has an abundance of proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins to prevent further muscle loss and boost their growth.
Here is a close look at the nutrients –
The protein in your diet signals the muscle tissues to strengthen and build. As your muscles become more resistant to this signal with age, it is important that you consume more protein to increase muscle growth. A study found that people over age 70, who consumed a wholesome meal containing 35gms of protein, saw significant growth in the muscle mass. Leucine, an amino acid, is especially essential for regulating muscle growth. Some of the best sources of leucine include meat, eggs, fish, soy, and whey protein.
Research has shown that the optimal intake of dietary protein should be somewhere between 0.6-0.9g/pound/d of protein in older adults with chronic or acute diseases. Besides eating more protein with meals, health experts recommend adding other protein-rich foods to their daily diet, including peanuts, almonds, edamame, and chickpeas.
Vitamin D is important for maintaining and building healthy bones. This is because the main component responsible for bone health, calcium can be absorbed only when your body has sufficient vitamin D. Milk, soymilk, cheese and other dairy products, egg yolks, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are some of the foods offering sufficient amounts of vital vitamin D. While natural food sources are the best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D, you can also opt for supplements to increase muscle endurance and lower the risk of falling. However, be sure to discuss with your doctor before taking vitamin supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Fish oil extracted from fatty fish contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and EPA. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil is known to boost muscle sensitivity to resistance training and protein, allowing for growth in strength, size, and muscle mass as you age. A study conducted over 16 weeks revealed taking omega-3 supplements regularly witnessed a significant increase in muscle growth.
Sarcopenia becomes more apparent with age and may affect your quality of life. Eating high-quality protein and enough calories can delay the rate of muscle loss. Consult a dietician and ask for a diet plan comprising these nutrients to improve muscle strength and deter sarcopenia.